Sins of the Past by K. W. Thompson by K. W. Thompson - Read Online

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Sins of the Past - K. W. Thompson

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A Day in the Life

August 18, 2005

The crime scene was in the middle of a large muddy field. Junior, my driver, was doing his best to get us as close as possible. Halfway across, I felt our rear tires start to spin, and Junior slammed on the brakes as we slid three feet before finally coming to a stop a hundred yards from where the tent was set up.

Our tires settled into the mire. Junior looked at me as if to apologize for not being able to get any closer. I just opened my door.

The rain, which had been a steady mist all morning, had just become a downpour as I got out of the car. As the deluge began to soak my hair and make its way under my collar, I turned back and waved for Junior to accompany me. I was damned if I was going to be the only one who was going to be miserable.

As we walked across the field to the crime scene, I tried to keep from slipping in the mud. My mood was quickly mirroring the weather. I had just come from the mayor’s prayer breakfast, and I wasn’t dressed for this crap. I made a mental note to bill the department for a new pair of shoes. Just another day in the life of a big city cop. Junior tried to keep up, but the umbrella he was carrying threatened to blow him off his feet.

My team had been on site for only half an hour, and I knew very little information would be forthcoming, but that didn’t mean I would be cutting them any slack. As we walked up, Junior attempted to hold the umbrella over both of us. I motioned Sergeant Johnson over. Talk to me, Jonny.

Jonny tried reading from his notebook while shielding it from the rain. He gave up and gave me a summary. We got a call from the construction crew that’s working on this bridge piling. They discovered a body about an hour ago. The bulldozer unearthed it, and one of the crew spotted it as the guy was about to make another pass.

A new highway was being built to go into St. Charles County. The park was being bisected to accommodate the construction plans.

Jonny continued, I got here the same time as Doc; he’s looking it over right now. It looks like the body’s been here awhile, and it’s wrapped in some kind of cloth.

OK, let me talk to the doctor.

I took a few steps forward and felt my feet start to go out from under me. I grabbed onto Junior, who dropped his umbrella in the mud, and Jonny reached out a hand to steady me. Son of a bitch! I mumbled. Next time I stay in the car and let them come to me!

Junior picked up his umbrella, and a big gust of wind tore it from his fingers, hurling it into the muddy hole.

Junior! You better not be contaminating my crime scene! I growled.

Sorry, chief.

And don’t call me chief!

Yes sir! Sorry ch—Sorry boss.

The rain was coming down hard, and it sounded like machine-gun fire on the makeshift tent that had been erected to protect the scene. I ducked under the tent to get out of the rain and took out my moleskin notebook. I raised my voice to be heard. What do you have, Doc?

The medical examiner (ME) looked up at me as he wiped the fog off his glasses. He was covered in mud but had a grin on his face. I’ve only been here a couple of minutes, Captain. You’ll have to give me at least a half hour if you want me to solve your case for you!

Well, do that voodoo that you do so well, and tell me what I’m looking at here, I said as I drew my raincoat up and squatted next to the hole. I grabbed the handle of the umbrella and handed it back to Junior.

Doc put his glasses back on and reached down to pull a tarp back to reveal what looked like a mummy to me. My mind took me back to a school field trip to the St. Louis Art Museum, with its infamous Egyptian mummy collection.

Doc had already finished his preliminary examination, and the wrappings were partially undone. Without risking further damage to an already compromised crime scene, I can tell you that the victim is a female. Judging from the size of the body, I’d say a young woman, late teens to early twenties. What I can’t tell you is how long she’s been here.

Why not? I inquired.

Because she appears to be preserved and could have been here for years. My best guess would be several decades.

When you say preserved . . .?

It appears to be some sort of mummification, Doc replied.

I could not believe what I was hearing. You mean like from a museum?

Not exactly, but similar. Doc’s voice took on a professorial tone as he explained, The area we are in is very spongy, similar to the bogs in Ireland. At one time, this area was part of the lake. The cloth she is wrapped in appears to be an oilcloth type of tarp. Possibly from a sailboat sail. I’ll know more when we get her back to the lab.

He replaced the tarp over the body.

I did find something I think you’ll like. Doc held up a beaded necklace. I found this in her hand.

Maybe from the killer? I asked. With my handkerchief covering my fingers, I took the necklace from his hand. Up close, I could tell it was a very old Catholic rosary.

Well, it’s not broken, Doc said, It was wrapped around her fingers. Doc got a faraway look in his eyes. As you know, the Native Americans who inhabited this area had a practice of burying their dead with talismans.

I held up my hand to interrupt him. "Doc, can we focus on the body?

Sorry, Cap. I know you don’t go in for psychological mumbo-jumbo, but the way this was done could imply love or extreme guilt, Doc suggested.

Aren’t they one and the same? Junior quipped. I gave him a look.

I placed the rosary in an open evidence bag that Jonny was holding out. Bag and tag it.

I thought about the rest of my day and made a note to cancel my afternoon meetings. This type of case would require all of my attention for the foreseeable future.

As I squatted next to the hole, I allowed my mind to absorb the scene. I shut out the noise and the weather and focused on the victim.

First impressions are invaluable in my job. I try to get a feeling for the victim and for how they came to be where they are. Photographs are a poor substitute for actually studying a crime scene.

The most important part of my job is shining a light so we can find the truths that lurk in the shadows. I’ve heard other cops say victims talk to them. I don’t know if I would go that far, but seeing a victim in their place of violation is important to me. I have to make myself leave sympathy out of the equation, obviously, but I try to feel what the victim felt at the time of the crime.

I took a hand from Junior and got to my feet. I put my notebook away. As I prepared to leave, my phone began to vibrate against my thigh.

Keep me posted, I said as I turned away. I took my phone out of my pocket. The caller ID said my grandma was trying to reach me. I nearly put the phone back into my pocket, figuring I’d call her back later, but instead I went ahead and flipped it open.

Hello! I nearly shouted into the phone, over the sound of the rain pouring down onto the tent. My grandma’s not a loud talker to begin with and now she might as well have been whispering. I shouted into my phone, Grandma, I can’t hear you; I’ll have to call you back. I heard her shout No! so I said, Hang on; let me go somewhere where I can hear you.

I looked around, and the closest structure was a port-a-potty a few feet away. I carefully made my way over and opened the door. The smell could have peeled paint, and the floor was awash with what I hoped was mud. I stepped in, and the wind slammed the door in my back, nearly causing me to drop my phone in the hole. Shit! I started slipping, so I put my feet against both side walls to steady myself.

OK, Grandma. I think I can hear you better, but you’ll have to speak up.

Just then, the rain suddenly stopped, as if someone had turned off a spigot. I heard Grandma loud and clear as she said, It’s your grandpa. He’s in the hospital. You need to get here as soon as possible. She began to cry, and I heard someone in the background take the phone from her.

Vincent? I didn’t recognize the voice. I’m a neighbor of your grandparents. They just brought your grandfather into St. Mary’s Hospital. It doesn’t look good.

Shit was all I could think of to say.


Perks of the Job

August 18, 2005

I left instructions with my team and headed to the hospital. Driving into the city at this time of day was sure to be a bitch, so I had Junior hit the siren. As the head of the St. Louis City and County Major Crime Unit, one of the perks of the job was having my own driver.

A lot of politics were involved when the Major Crime Unit was created. Technically, I work in both the city and the county, but the mayor made sure to have our headquarters located near city hall. I think it made him feel like the squad belonged to him. The mayor wanted me to use a limousine, like him, but I insisted on a regular police car. The only concession I made was to have it painted solid black.

Let me tell you a little about myself. At thirty-four, I am the youngest cop in St. Louis history to be head of his own division. I say division, but it really is more of a permanent task force.

After 9/11, every city in the country had to be on the lookout for terrorists. While I do agree we must be vigilant, I don’t believe terrorists are hiding around every corner. The terrorism task force works hand in hand with Homeland Security, which means trying to work with the federal government. Police work and government bureaucracy go hand and hand like Jell-O and gourmet food. They just don’t go good together.

The Major Crime Unit came about out of a need to satisfy a new demographic in the city. The group of people addicted to television cop shows. Don’t laugh. Without those nut jobs, I would be out of a job. Watching every Law and Order show to come down the pike had created a desire by the public to have a specialized department to deal with all the different types of crime. My team became the easy way to pander to this group without costing the city any more money. The Major Crime Unit investigates all the high-profile cases the media decides its consumers have a right to know about.

Sad to say, these television shows do more than that. They give new and twisted ideas to the already sick underbelly of the criminal world. Every time the serial-killer shows create a new way to kill, someone inevitably tries to emulate it.

I work sixteen-hour days, and I am on call the other eight hours, so you can imagine what kind of personal life I have. When I do have time to date, I usually date someone from the department or from one of the many groups of people tied into the periphery of police work. My most serious relationship has been with a nurse named Joyce who works at St. Mary’s Hospital, and she keeps a crazier schedule than I do.

I have a stellar record in the department. After working my rookie year in the crime-ridden north St. Louis neighborhoods, I became the youngest cop to make detective. When the time came to create the Major Crime Unit, the fact that my partner and I were instrumental in taking down the mayor’s opponent in the most contested election in the city’s history didn’t hurt. We caught the Republican nominee with his, uh, privates in the proverbial prostitution cookie jar. Talk about being in the